Monday, 18 September 2017

A typical Crowdcube story

Are you comfortable, then we will begin, said the bwitch. Once upon a time people told the really they did.

Then they forgot how to. Now nobody seems to know what the word means anymore.

The Do Nation Enterprise funded via Crowdcube in 2014 - just £167k with SEIS. 

Their projections were not exactly accurate - were they guys?

Claims of large clients may have been exaggerated? Or maybe they were just unlucky. Dont suppose anyone checked.

The upshot is that for 2015 and 2016 the company has sustained substantial losses, when it claimed it would be making substantial profits. As at December 2016, it was technically insolvent. It recently raised £30k. 2017 projections seem somewhat optimistic.

Where in all of this is there any sustainable benefit to anyone in using SEIS. Please tell me or shoot me.

Of course this is not to belittle the voluntary not for profit work the company's NFP wing does. 

The Good the Bad and the downright Ugly

Three companies recent filings and reviews reflect the diverse nature of the Crowdcube portfolio.

First lets start with Clint - AKA Curpis Health and  also Go Henry

Curpis Health - It's a little early to be hanging out the bunting, but these guys appear to be ahead of their financial targets although they still appear to need to raise cash this year. Breaking into the NHS is a very had task, especially with the budgets stertched to breaking point but they seem to be getting there.

Go Henry - progess has been spot on and providing they can refuel their gas guzzling plan, they look set to make some serious impact in the future - when is anyone's guess. But certainly not a lemon. 

Then there is the Bad - well you can really take your pick. One we like Is Water to Go - seemingly gone or Psonar which has been liquidated.

We have reserved the Ugly for the worst set of reviews we have ever seen. This goes to Chupamobile - which took over £500k off Crowdcube punters. Here are some of the reviews - Sites vary on theor average but from the 3 we looked at, it's around 1.5 out of 5. - 

''Seriously folks, if you're reading this... They dont care. And if you doubt me at all, use your favorite search engine to find tons of other complaints just like mine. Don't fall victim to these guys. Avoid at all costs.''

''They are scammers do not use that website, dont buy or sell, if you paid for something that does not work please report here, choose internet fraud:''

''After buying a source code that was far older than stated, they continued to literally patronize me. Theyre customer service is one person, who refuses to offer any real help or refunds. They say they updated code, which they didnt. Made me waste even more time, only for them to tell me politely that I'm screwed. Now I have no product that i can work with, ive wasted two weeks in trying, and I'm insulted. DO NOT DO BUSINESS. I dont care how good it may sound. I wish I would have read the reviews on this company first.''

We are not saying these reviewers are right but as business is hard enough to get going, running into a headlong gale like this makes if pretty well impossible. Accounts due out this month. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Is Twenty Something London yet another Crowdcube nothing?

Hello again - another serving of poor business for you. Twenty Something London, an online referral business, has Twitter and FB accounts that have been dormant for many months.

They do have a website, but it is diabolical - something from the 2000's. Their twitter account is here - and hasnt posted since February. Their accounts are well overdue and they are sitting under a CH strike off notice. We suspect they dont look at that page.

TSL took £150k off Crowdcube punters in 2015 claiming to have a business plan to link small businesses via their portal, providing efficient and effective promotion. The pitch valued the company at around £2m based on a lot of PRing. They projected large losses (accurate) backed up by new investment of over £1m (inaccurate). Of course this new investment never appeared - which professional would invest in this? It is possible they never intended the new investment to come through?

What would be interesting for all to see is where the £150k has gone - but due to the accounting system we run in this country that will not happen. You can make your own guess. We have seen this particular 'problem' often on Crowdcube - raise a smallish amount and project to raise more in the next two years. There are several live pitches making the same promise. Why cant people see this for what it is? 

Of the two key founders, one resigned last year; once the money was getting a little tight. 

It hasnt gone yet but we'd put our money on it.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Crowdcube's Water To Go may have gone

Water to Go pushes on with further heavy losses and reaches out to China for a life line.

WTG raised just shy of £200k on Crowdcube in 2014. Since then you might say its results have been a little disappointing. 

Accounts for YE Dec16, just filed, show further losses of £200k for the year, on a turnover that halved from 2015. The Crowdcube version showed the company making net profits for 2016 of £2.5m. Just by way of an explanation, this £2.5m profit was on the back of sales of over £10m, whereas reality shows sales of just over £300k. The balance sheet is looking a little flushed.

When we looked at the product in a climbing shop in Scotland, firstly it was covered is dust, which is never a good sign, secondly it was very expensive.

They have put together a deal with a Chinese distributor just this month - nothing to do with torture we understand; that's been left for investors It may be their last straw. 

It is really quite pathetic

Crowdcube at it again. Totally blatant misuse of information to big themselves up on the newest pitch for Keen Home Inc.

Firstly I will make clear that this is not a criticism of this business - we have not looked at.

So it's not enough to pile up the dross, now CC are so desperate they have taken to mass manipulation of the figures.

You might be as surprised as we were on reading about the new pitch by USA based firm Keen Home. They had, on day 3 of their CC pitch, completed 493% of their £570k target. The figure on the CC site stated as funded is £2.8m.

But wait this is CC after all so there has to be some trick in there.

Yup there is - only £27k of that money has been raised by Crowdcube. Not £2,800,000 - just £27,000. So less than 1% of the headline claim. The rest comes from a raise (called a joint raise pitch, whatever that is) in the USA by Seedinvest, a US ECF platform.

So why the hell do they have promote what is nothing more than a simple and very misleading lie? Well they just dont seem able to help themselves. The information above is all there if you look at the pitch but it isnt what you see in the headline home page.

Why would they do that? Well they know the FCA never does a thing about any of their nonsense, so they are clear there. It makes the platform look fantastic and helps to bury the rest of the dross they are promoting, all of which are struggling to get to 50%.

It taint right , taint honest, taint proper.  It's Crowdcube.

Soma, So ma, So far or doe ray me far.............

In what has to be one of Crowdcube's worst ever investment shenanigans, ex Ethos Global, ex Ethos London England, soon to be ex Soma(?), have postponed their opening launch party in London. The announcement was made today, the party was tomorrow.

It's no surprise really. The management of Soma are the same two from Ethos, who took lots of money of lots of Crowdcube investors and were then forced into liquidation by the Court. The results have not yet been filed. We flagged this all up here

The funds from Ethos seem to have been used to fund the newco. Its all very messy and must have been planned well before they pitched on Crowdcube. Lets hope the liquidator has a mind to find the facts and not do the usual sweeping under the carpet job. All this phoenix needs is a strong fire extinguisher.

So now what am I going to do this Saturday  - they havent exactly given me much time to re arrange my diary. I think a trip to the beach at Antibes is called for - Jester, get my jet ready! 

Ideasquares is not what you think it is

A contact asked us about Ideasquares - We were surprised by what we found.

Ideasquares purports to be an equity crowdfunding consultancy - helping businesses wishing to use this channel to complete a successful round. 

However it is not that really. Its just a conduit for Seedrs and Crowdcube to promote their own platforms. In fact those are the only plaforms that offer ECF in the UK, if you read their website. Reading the link above you might think you were on the Crowdcube website. 

It does declare that it is partnered with the two, but this is more of an appendage than a partnership. 

Nothing wrong with any of this really and the girl who runs it gets great reviews - although she has absolutely no experience in anything. Or is there?

We offer a completely independent service - covering all platforms and will recommend the right platform for the right offer. And you can be sure that there are many more excellent platforms out there with a large variety of expertise in many different sectors. Choosing the wrong one will not help.

So use them by all means but just know that they are not independent and they are peddling wares for both Crowdcube and Seedrs ONLY - is there a finders fee? What they tell about both platforms will not be the whole truth - read the link above to see that. It's all a little too cosy and it yet again asks questions about the openness and honesty of the whole ECF sector.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

How Desperte can Crowdcube be?

We were sent this today - Crowdcube asking investors to push businesses their way for a finders fee of £2k each. What about all the PRing from Luke Lang over the past 3 years that the platform is inundated with applications and that they turn away well over 50% of them?

Are we now entering the final stages? Having tried a £1000 fee, they are now doubling it  - so clearly £1k didnt work? I will certainly be inventing a few companies to get my £10k for next Christmas. No wonder they get such dross. Cash in while you can. 



As a valued member of Crowdcube, we’d like to invite you to Crowdcube’s referral scheme. Not only that, during September we’re doubling the incentive we offer for each business you refer to us.

Spread the word about raising finance on Crowdcube and you’ll receive £2,000* for every business (that’s new to Crowdcube) that you refer to us in September, which goes on to successfully fund on the platform. 

How do I refer a business to Crowdcube?
If you know a business that may be interested in raising finance on Crowdcube, you can refer them to us quickly and easily here

All you need to provide is your Crowdcube username, your name and contact details, as well as the name, contact details, and website of the company you want to refer to us - it’s that simple.

What can I earn?
For just a couple of minutes of your time, you’ll then receive £2,000 for every business you refer to us that successfully raises finance on Crowdcube.

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

As always, thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,
The Crowdcube Team

Since we asked where Big Sofa had gone, we have dredged up some unpleasant information

Big Sofa raised money on Crowdcube  - we dont know how much as some of it was withdrawn. But a good slug anyway. 

Big Sofa is now on AIM but most CC investors missed out (we believe all B shareholders missed the boat) and the company forced them to sell up before the IPO, at a price that meant they lost money - according to Crowdcube. We have written about them before here

During all of this, BS was involved in a RTO along with a company called New World Oil and Gas  - its all complicated but is explained in a fashion here along with the possible money laundering and other shenanigans that may have been part of all of this. Even if only some of it's true, you have to wonder why Crowdcube's broom cupboard didnt pick up a whiff?

New World Oil and Gas was suspended on AIM whilst all of this was investigated and remains so today. The RTO was put on hold and meanwhile BS IPO'd. Those who know things about Crowdcube will be interested to see that Hargreaves Lansdown are listed as a significant shareholder in New Oil and Gas.

All in all it paints quite a fishy picture. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

What happened to Ideas Britain - no idea?

We couldnt make this up. Yet another Crowdcube success seems to have gone down the tubes. Ideas Britain raised £270k on Crowdcube in 2015 from 138 'investors'. Results suggest none of them had a clue.

So here we are again - sorry we only report the facts so if they are getting a little boring we apologise.

Ideas Britain had some really pukka team peeps and masses of super plans  - overall valuing themselves at around £6m in 2015.

Most of those pukkas have now jumped overboard, leaving just 2. Unfortunately they dont seem capable of running much.

Projected profits for 2016 were £1.16m. Accounts just filed show losses of £160k and a BS with a negative number. No new money has been raised this year. Twitter hasnt tweeted for 12 months, Vimeo and Linkedin have had no ideas for the last year. 

Its not closed yet, but it might be the only good idea they ever had. 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Mindgenius prove our point - Congratulations!

Mindgenius employed us to help run their Crowdcube campaign. We recommended another platform but they had already signed with CC. The campaign failed but now Mindgenius is looking to take great leaps forward.

Mindgenius, a Scottish based B2B software company, employed ECF Solutions to run their 2016 ECF campaign. Unfortunately by the time they came to us, they had already signed to CC as we would not recommend a company in this sector for this platform. 

Despite a convincing pitch, the Crowdcube investors didnt see glossy rewards and were blind to the possibilities. We could, but as we work on commission based on a successful campaign, it doesnt help much!

The company has just announced future growth prospects, based on its new product Barvas, over the next 5 years, that make the Crowdcube valuation of £5m pre money look like a bargain. Anticipated revenues are to grow to £10m by 2022, which is way ahead of the Crowdcube projections. The Crowdcube pitch was based on the future growth of Barvas, so we were spot on there.

That's what you get with credible product development and an experienced team - real growth. It is just a shame that the Crowdcube investors prefer to cash in their chips for cases full of beer and empty promises. 

Still we believed in them and that does us some credit. One to watch.

Crowdcube's My Mate Your Date is annulled - no really

My Mate Your Date - another Aussie run effort, has closed just 2 years after raising £145k on Crowdcube from 132 imbeciles. 

Yet another total farce promoted by Crowdcube has met its end. A VL seems to suggest that at least here there were no creditors. 

The two founders, Jared Mooring and Dan Joyce are names to watch out for. Both made claims related to start ups/business activities in Australia, that now look highly dubious. Both made claims to over 6000 signed up members etc etc. Of course none of this would have been checked by the guys in the Exeter broom cupboard.

Scam - my dear old thing, we couldnt possibly comment.

Around about now the company was supposed to completing a year with revenues of £1.7m and net profits of over £200k. It failed to raise further substantial funding - you cant fool all the people all of the time - hence its demise.

We warned about this outfit recently - here - who said reviews were worthless?

Sorry to say there is plenty more slurry on the way. 

Our interview with Hop Stuff Brewery; a real Crowdcube success story

We wanted to bring you an original story about a start up company, using equity crowdfunding, that has genuinely grown as a result. From Crowdcube's portfolio.

As you can imagine that wasn’t easy. But we did find one and it offers many lessons to investors, platforms and companies alike, on how things should be done. This company has shown how ECF should be utilised for the benefit of all stakeholders. Its success is real; not imagined, as in so many of the stories you read in the ECF press.


Hop Stuff is a London based craft brewery. It was founded in 2013. We are grateful to the founders for giving up their time to share their story with us.

Hop Stuff was a brainchild of ex City couple James and Emma Yeomans. Fed up with life the City offered post 2008, they took a massive leap in dark in 2013 and set up Hop Stuff, from scratch with only an idea, a location and some experience in home brewing.

The first step was to raise funding and Crowdcube then, offered the perfect location – it was on a ride in the news and had not yet been hampered by massive overheads and negative returns. However, what was crucial to the success of Hop Stuff’s first CC raise, was the sensible approach taken by the founders. By offering 35% for £58k on an SEIS scheme, they made the bet a win win. Rewards would cover most downsides along with SEIS and if by chance the business was a success, investors were surely going to be quids in at that valuation.

James also points out that unlike Crowdcube now, where valuations have got to silly levels for businesses not tried and tested, the £58k they raised was for trials and the pitch was put to investors in this way – there was no stretching of the truth to obtain funding – it was simple initial proof of concept, seed round. If the trial worked they would ask for more and if it didn’t, they would close or look at other avenues.

Again, as James commented in the pitch and also when he spoke to us – this wasn’t all fingers into the wind. They knew where their initial market was, Woolwich and they had done their local research. In his own words -

‘In 2013 it was a pipe dream, and we launched a crowdfunding offer to basically validate our dream – if other people invested, it wasn’t just a crazy pipe dream! Fortunately, 71 people joined us in backing Hop Stuff Brewery, and I guess the rest is history’.

That pipe dream has gone on to raise more funding via CC in 2017 - £745k from over 600 investors at a valuation of £5.5m. It certainly hasn’t been plain sailing but the resolve is evident from the very fact that until this second raise, Hop Stuff had survived hand to mouth on the initial capital injection. By proving the concept, stress testing the systems and building genuine demand – not fancy superstore trial orders as so many do – the second raise was a massive success.

Here is the Q&A we had with them – as you can see the main issues that we are concerned about with ECF – valuations, lack of help from platforms, access to help from investors, lack of model testing etc are all evident in their experience. It also shows the advantage of using a service like ours, where we can help you to avoid the more obvious pitfalls.


Q  From your first raise in 2013, do you think your ideas of running a start up have changed significantly and are the plans you have now roughly the vision you had then? Any advice to likeminded people who wish to go it alone?

Yes, things snowballed beyond our wildest imagination. In 2013 it was our intention to open a small, local micro-brewery. We were always set on brewing “craft beer” (i.e. hoppy fresh little numbers) but it was our intention to do it locally, but always with the same ethos which is ‘craft beer ought to be for everyone’. This idea has carried us through the last 3 years; trying to remove some of the unwelcoming stigma of craft beer. We’re grateful that this has resonated with people, as demand has kept growing and growing. In business, you’re constantly re-evaluating what you’re doing, and you can only work with what you have. Fortunately, we have a very successful and popular formula for what we think craft beer ought to be.

In terms of advice; research and ask questions. We were so na├»ve when we first started. That is, to a certain extent, unavoidable, but I wish I’d worked a little harder to ask for more information.

Q  Can you give me some numbers? How you have progressed over the years since 2013, if that was all in line with the projections. Has there been a moment when you thought  - no this isn’t going to work?

We’re averaging about 136% growth year on year since we launched. We actually doubled our financial projections in 2016 versus the original crowdfunding targets.

There have been plenty of times where we could have given up – the financial pressures on a small company growing as quickly as we have with such limited capital is incredibly difficult. I owe a lot to my wife (Emma) who kept me sane throughout, and we always found a way to make it work. I think that dogged determination is key – a single minded stubbornness to say, “this will work”. 

Q  Have you gained any help from your Crowdcube shareholders? Have you gained any help from Crowdcube apart from in the funding? Do you think you could have achieved this without Crowdcube if you had another source of funding?

We have a lot of incredibly talented individuals within our investor base, many of whom have offered their services at times in our journey. We’re incredibly grateful to our investors for all the support, not just financial, since we opened.

I think we would have done something similar without crowdfunding, but access to funding is incredibly tight at the moment, and there aren’t many people willing to take risks on small companies. Crowdfunding is an incredible tool if used correctly. I think there are too many companies out there abusing it at the moment, and it’s for the funding platforms to catch and monitor this to ensure the platforms stay available for many years to come.

Q  A number of start up artisan breweries have used equity crowdfunding but to date we haven’t seen any real progress from them. What is it that makes Hop Stuff different in your opinion? What are your top 3 qualities that make Hop Stuff as a company stand out?

There have been a number of crowdfunding success stories, I guess the most notable is Brewdog. There have been other, smaller companies that have flown under the radar a little but are doing incredibly well. I think the approachability is the differentiating factor for Hop Stuff Brewery. We don’t go chasing the highest ABV, or sourest sour, we focus on making big flavoured beers for the new-to-craft drinker. That’s our market, and we focus very hard on making sure we’re that brewery.

3 things: Team, Brand, Ethos.

Team: High quality sales and production teams making and distributing our lovely beer.
Brand: Make craft beer accessible
Ethos: Craft beer ought to be for everyone.

Q  What advice would you give start ups looking to raise funding using equity crowdfunding? Do you think that the way the UK operates equity Crowdfunding will work in the longer term?

I think the system will need to change and adapt over the coming years to ensure its successful future. As I said, there are some companies that are inappropriate for crowdfunding that are unfortunately successfully getting through. I think a glossy brochure and good rhetoric isn’t enough, you have to demonstrate sound financial knowledge and a viable business proposition. I think there are a few high profile funds that I believe have the potential to fail, which may in turn hurt the market.
I’d advise anyone looking at it to do as I just said, make sure your business stacks up on all fronts before launching, it’ll make the Q&A a lot easier.

Q  What has been your biggest mistake and your greatest moment since 2013?

Biggest mistake: Capacity issues. Since we opened we’ve been chasing capacity in order to keep up. The new brewhouse is completely overspec’d, but it allows us the capacity to grow quickly.

Greatest moment: Successfully closing funding V2. Every time you fund you take a gamble: Is the valuation right? Will people back the idea? Are people interested? Do they get it? The funding of round 2 was done over, what I would argue to be, the toughest time of year (Christmas), and still only took 18 days to hit target 1, and a further 3 days to surpass our upper limit. Having another 600 people backing the idea is mind blowing, and incredibly complimentary.

Q  Have you had or applied for any help from UK DTI for your efforts in exporting your beers? If not do you understand why not and if you have, was it helpful? Do you have any advice for similar SMEs trying to export?

Yes, we have a good relationship with our counterparts at UKDTI – they’re extremely helpful when exporting to a new country, and valuable partners to know.

Q  What do you think would have happened to your company if you had not managed to raise the second time on Crowdcube?

We’d have continued in the same way as before, with the same ambitions. It would have likely just taken us quite a lot longer to get there.

Q  What are the plans for the next 3 years?

Firstly, we need to make good on all the promises we made when crowdfunding. We need to make sure Hop Stuff brewery is a successful brand, business and investment in the next 3 years. How do we do that? More of the same I think. We’ll continue to spread our message, invite people on board and promote craft beer wherever we can.


Sure things are not yet complete – in fact this expansion phase is as dangerous as most. But the determination of the founders gives us hope that they will see this through and that the initial investors at a valuation of around £160k will be rewarded – as they should be.

It is also the case that we here had been highly critical of the first round and consequent performance  - 2015 accounts showed the company technically insolvent. We are happy to hold our hands up and say we got this wrong – we had never spoken to or met the founders and there lies the difference between giving up and forging on. They have been successful to date by focusing on – knowing their customers, serving their customers, running a very tight ship, proving their model, working their socks off and presenting investors with a genuine opportunity.

We wish them well for the future and will watch with anticipation as they grow.

Finally we cant help pointing out that they have never won any of Crowdcube’s self aggrandising, pointless awards.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Where is the sense in this?

Fishy Filaments have an interesting product in a growing market. All as yet untested. They are now overfunding on Crowdcube - WHY? Why sell off your company equity at this price when you will need it later?

We dont usually comment on live pitches - we dont like to influence. But in this case the pitch has flown past its very modest target in just a few days. So it's safe to do so.

FF solves a variety of very topical problems and in the model, makes money. Its still at a pre revenue stage  - in fact its a pre production stage. Sensibly the company was offering 25% of it shares for £150k. People loved it and bought in. So much so, that as of now, they have sold 30% of the company at this value. Now the plans we have seen, do not show any extra funding - it survives from now  - zero income, zero product and zero market position, to a turnover of £500k in 2018/19  -ie next year. For some reason the turnover only increases to £700k in 2019/20. So drops from 500% to under 50% annual growth. Capex is £120k over the next two years, leaving very little free cash for running the operation.

The cash flow for 2018/19 is derived entirely from the sale of the products (remember still untested in a real sense) on a very high GPM. Fall in projected sales would be fatal.

So guess what, they will need to raise more funding or borrow in 2018 and 2019. This reality is not shown in the Crowdcube pitch. Year 2018/19 starts with a very small bank balance.

But hang on, they are currently giving away their equity at a company value of around £600k and overfunding. So what will they have left? Surely one key element of seed funding is to raise enough capital, at a price that will attract risk takers, to prove the concept and get to revenue sales. Then you can up the value and raise more capital. If you have, as seems to be the case here, used up your equity, then you may well have shot yourself in the foot. You can only have so much equity and founders do tend to want to keep a solid block. So assuming they go on in this pitch but wish to keep 50% for founders, you have not got a play with in rounds 2/3/4/5/6.

The financials suggest a lack of attention to detail - dates are wrong, GPM is wrong etc. So be careful out there. Great idea but has anyone actually worked any of this out? Why wasnt there any mentoring? And if there was, you should be ashamed.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Innis and Gunn sell 28% for £15m

Innis and Gunn - the Scottish brewer and pub operator has sold 26% of its company to a US PE firm, valuing the business at a little over £50m.

We are not quite sure what to make of this. Sure it verifies the Crowdcube valuation of £50m in 2016 but doesnt it also dilute those shareholders and place them at the mercy of some US corporate?

Around 20% of the £15m is going into buying management shares and rest into operations with no liquidity offered to ordinary shareholders - according to unconfirmed reports.

I&G were making losses before raising £3m on a 7.5% bond via Code Investing in 2015, to build a new brewery. The money ended up being used to buy and expand the Inveralmond Brewery in 2016. Revenues rose by 22% and the company was in profit for the last year.

Needless to say the profit for 2016 of just over £300k doesn't come close to the Crowdcube projected profit (from the pitch in the same year) of £717k.  

It will interesting to see if this, like the sale by Brewdog of part of their company to a US corporate, makes for changes in the companies' fundamental ethos and what happens to the wee shareholder at the bottom of the barrell. 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Idelman lose another £1.4m

Idleman has raised ECF on both Crowdcube and Syndicate Room. It tried to raise more recently on CC but failed. Recent, late accounts may give a clue as to why.

It all boils down to continuous promises and continuous excuses for not delivering on them. Credibility does have a limit. We have written about them before - here.

Their followers have put in another £1m this year but unless things have turned around since August 16, that wont last long. 2016 comes on the back of a £1.8m loss for 2015. Whilst both 15 and 16 projected losses, they were not in this region. The overshoot is around £1m for both years. The founder even admitted in a answer to us that the Crowdcube projections had been 'overly bullish'. 

On the Crowdcube website, the original 2015 pitch, which raised £718k, has been erased. That should give you a clue. It's also worth noting that Idleman used a favourite CC trick in their first pitch. They raised £450k of the £750k target off line with Foresight. This appeared in the progress bar at opening. Foresight also appear to have provided the new funding this year. 

The problem here is the same one that comes up time and time again with Crowdcube. Companies promise things they know they cant deliver. Crowdcube only care about the initial completion so they let excessive forecasts go or encourage them - their source of income coming from completions. Idleman may yet make it; it takes time. By promising undelivered figures, companies are putting themselves under enormous strains for all the wrong reasons. We all know this. Yet it continues. 

We recently interviewed a genuine Crowdcube success - post will be out shortly. Their initial projections were over egged but not by the usual amounts. On their second CC raise, which they had planned in the first raise, they were far more realistic and have now exceeded these figures. Sure they are not a ROI yet but their progress from very small to small/medium has been encouraging. They wholly agree that over hyped financials are the main problem with ECF and whilst careful not to say so directly, they blame CC for this. Who else is there? 

Surely time for a change?

Monday, 4 September 2017

HAB to raise another £50m through bond issue

HAB is about to raise another £50m  - just months after completing a £2.4m bond via Code Investing (ex Crowdbnk). 

HAB raised money on Crowdcube back in its early days.

Now its subsidiary HAB Land Ltd is intending to raise another £50m, according to a piece in The Guardian here.

Airlander decides to move - WHY?

Accounts just filed show £2.8m loss with a poor CA position for the next 12 months or until they can sell something. As expected the Crowdcube Nov 16 projections were a joke showing a NP of over £500k.  

Airlander, makers of the world's largest air vehicle, are leaving their home in Bedforshire. They currently have no new location to go to. Their plans are already way behind schedule. The money has run out again and their accounts are late. So what's really going on?

Airlander has taken £3.2m off 2300 Crowdcube investors to date. It has continually promised things that have failed to appear. Now, as test flights appear to be doing well over the summer, the company has announced it is uprooting it's home and moving everything somewhere else. 

Does that make any sense?

This how the Bedfordshire site was described by the compnay in the CC pitch -

The Company took delivery of the prototype Airlander 10 in late December 2013 and at the same time secured a lease on one of the two historic and purpose-built Cardington airship hangers near Bedford, England. This purpose-built facility has been the home of the UK’s airship industry for around 100 years and is currently undergoing a major refurbishment. The Company considers itself to be well placed to grow its business at this site and drive hi-tech job creation in the region through the reassembly and return to flight of Airlander 10 under EASA approval, when secured. The Company has active support from the Bedfordshire community and local government. 

Sounds like a place to stay to us.

The protoype isnt something you can put in your van and relocate. In fact the requirements for relocation must be quite specific to allow this big white sofa to float off and come back again without interfering with anything around it. This they have had in Bedfordshire for the past 4 years. They were also close to London. And what is this going to cost? Again the relocation and its costs were never flagged up last year. In the 2016 pitch it showed £30m being raised in 2017. Well records at CH show only a fraction of this to date. 

In a piece by the BBC a few days ago, here, the CEO said - 

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) said it was the "right" and "pragmatic" decision.
"The success of Airlander means that we have had to review our needs for the future," said executive director Tom Grundy.
"Establishing new buildings at a new site will allow us to be sure that we have the facilities we need for the future, while allowing the film industry to take up the space it requires in Cardington."

So the prime reasons for moving are the need for more space and the need to help film industry? It wont come as any surprise that both rounds of Crowdcube investment, produced financials that are now complete tripe. Projected sales of £18m in 2017 and £130m in 2018, with a £25m NP, have now been replaced with a commercial launch in 2019. How is that success? 
One more point - in the last round in 2016, the company stated that it would not be using the investment to payback an o/s loan to one of the directors. On the 24 August 2017, this loan was satisfied in full according to CH. The money certainly did not come from any sales which remain firmly rooted at zero.
More announcements on this soon and possibly some accounts, may help to shed some light. Let's hope it's not all hot air.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Pizza Rossa turns to dough on line

Pizza Rossa are famous at Crowdcube. They have raised £600k in two tranches, won the 2013 Crowdcube Best Start Up Award, promised the world and to date delivered nothing. But are things about to change?

Rossa pitched on CC with a promise to sell their square slices to the City on Saturdays. This was back in 2013 when we were posting Q's on the CC forum. We asked them how they intended to sell 15% of their turnover to a city that was all but closed at weekends. They told us we didnt know anything. Shortly after opening their second unit, they had closed it and pulled back the original unit to a 5 day week. These guys won a business plan competition at LBS for gods sake.

In the 2015 pitch, PR stated this - and it was sanctioned by the FCA regulated Crowdcube - 

Our second outlet opened on the 20th of November on London Wall (London EC2M) and it is already a success story.

So why did it close? Even the 2015 projections have been shown to be complete BS. You might have thought they would have learnt a little from 2013. The product seems well received.

Since, they have achieved little apart from burning all the money invested. Now in 2017, with only 1 unit open, they have taken to home delivery. Why has that taken 4 years to work out?

Anyway the penny has eventually dropped and from the accounts for YE Nov 2016, they may just have saved themselves from the brink -  a relatively small loss seems to have ended the haemorrhaging - although the patient is still critical.  Naturally the Crowdcube projections used to sell the equity are long gone - as ever, pure fantasy. Now its a question of how little can they manage to lose each year. They raised a small amount of extra cash in 2017 and now promote themselves as almost exclusively on line. Time will tell but a sloth might be a better CEO than the current one.  

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Brewdog announce radical profit giveaway?

Brewdog, who just sold 23% of their company to American corporates, have now announced what they claim is a radical profit giveaway. 

Brewdog has announced (their wording) - 

Today, we’re excited to announce that BrewDog is committing to giving away 20% of our profits. Forever.

Firstly many companies do similar things but they just dont dress them up as unique. CSR has been around for over 20 years. It is a form of company promotion. And who ever heard of giving something away and then asking for it back?? That's called a loan. 

Secondly, when they say profits, what do they actually mean? Anyone who has run a company knows that your net profit can be as small as you wish to make it. That apart, the scheme as outlined looks very ordinary and has no doubt some Corporate Tax kickback.

Finally the employee profit share scheme they have announced alongside this, is just that. Its not new. Its called building in employee loyalty and feel good. Its part of running a successful growing business. Some of the this money will apparently be going to shareholders or Equity Punks as they insist on calling them. That my friends is called issuing a dividend. 

Now if had you got real balls and a real concern for the welfare of your community, a share of revenues ie turnover along the same lines would have been a punk move. This PR is for pussies.

So Brewdog, you are a great company and you have redefined the possibilities of growing something small into something big. Why do you need to continue with the charade? You sold out to corporates - everyone does it. So get used to it.

A view from the top

Recent conversations we have had with the top players in Equity Crowdfunding, show convergence. Crowdcube must change or go?

Everyone says it privately. So we thought we'd share their views with you, the Crowd. No names just some real facts. It matters because as the largest and betst known UK ECF platform, what happens to Crowdcube will have serious consequences for the sector as a whole.

The descriptions vary from 'a shambles' to things far far worse. But they all agree - the Crowdcube ECF model doesnt work and if something isnt done about it, ECF will suffer, possibly even die. 

They all have the same positive outlook for ECF generally. But the Crowdcube pile em high, sell em cheap model, with little follow up and no platform engagement after funding, is simply not sustainable. The trail of carnage is building.

They all agree that we need far more company and platform engagement, more pre and aftercare, more skin in the game. The simple truth is you cannot dangle start ups in front of an audience of cash rich, semi ignorant, semi arrogant, tax rebate junkies like some hypnotic rib rave and expect them to make sensible business decisions. They do, incredibly, believe the PR and figures they are fed.

The answer has to be for the platform's to take a stake in the businesses, backed by their expert panel who have some input into the businesses' futures and have properly reviewed their plans. So now the interests of the platform and the investors and the companies are all aligned. All of this can be controlled by access to EIS and SEIS reliefs. Crowdcube essentially set up investors with promises of massive tax reliefs and PR about Zuckerman in 3. They then take the cash, peel off their commission and let the companies do whatever they like with the rest. 

The nature of the beast is such that no one can emphatically prove this one way or t'other; right now. We have evidence that strongly suggests it is the case; other platforms and sector commentators, agree. But until Crowdcube's businesses have nearly all collapsed, many leaving in their wake, liquidised SME creditors, corruption and fraud or just plain stupidity, we can have no definitive answer. By then, it's too bloody late.

September is a hot month for Crowdcube - over 100 of its 'successes' are due to file accounts; many for the first time, so the accounts will show how they are really doing. Our bet is that over the July - September period for 2017, filed accounts will show that very very few of the 130 companies that will have filed, will have come even close to the projections used to value their companies and sell their equity. That is not a good trend but it is consistent with all the evidence we have from 2011 onwards. Nothing has changed.

To date the figure that represents the gap between the projected P&L and the delivered P&L for the last year of filed accounts, stands at over £150m. That's in just one year - add say 2 or 3 years misses together and its goes off the scale. Of the 214 companies that have filed accounts for the relevant period since CC funding, 193 have missed their projections(including a number of companies that have gone bust). 41 of these have missed by more than £1m for the last 12 month period since funding - one of these is Crowdcube. Only 9 have genuinely met them. That's a miss rate of around 95%. These projections are verified by Crowdcube 'experts'; Crowdcube is sanction by the FCA. Is it any wonder that experts have such a bad name now.

We asked Crowdcube to discuss this but never received a reply. If you are reading this, then please help us all out by letting a discussion take place. That would certainly be democratic and open - it might change some opinions. We'd be happy to provide our evidence for you to look at and comment on??


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Cake - Give Me CAKE!

Cake Technologies raised £1m on Crowdcube in 2015. Accounts to YE Dec 16 show losses of £2.4m and a large deficit on the BS. 

This is odd as friends of mine in the City swear by it. So whats happened to the plans?

Well firstly they have failed to raise the £5m projected equity funds since the £1m on CC. The losses are only £100k higher than projected, which is probably a result of the funding issue. Since the 2016 YE they have only managed to raised another £100k or so which in no way covers their £600k plus deficit. The CA position is horrible.  

Maybe a lack of traction and lack of venues who accept it, have slowed things down. The patient doesnt look well though. You could say that the Directors have stretched the explanation of their Going Concern clause to the limit. 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Where is the Big Sofa? Ah there you are.

Big Sofa raised a target of £700k. Ka-ching went the commission. So why have all four lead directors now resigned and where has the cash gone?

There seems to be some connection between this company and Big Sofa Technologies PLC, which went public shortly after changing its name on Dec 2016. There seems to be no legal bind but they do the same thing and have largely the same directors. - Correction.... Big Sofa Tech Gp PLC (on AIM) bought BS Tech Ltd and it is now part of the Group. So does that mean it is Crowdcube first IPO?? And if so why havent we heard about it?? 

The Crowdcube version should, by Dec 2016, have been at BE. The filed accounts show losses for the year of 2.3m. Revenues are well below projected levels and the company is technically insolvent. So just about standard for Crowdcube.

No doubt there is a plan.

On further research we have the answer. Bloody typical. We havent heard about the deal for BS Tech because in Crowdcube's own words - 

Big Sofa initiated a realisation for its investors prior to a listing on AIM Market in 2016. Investor returns were at a lower valuation than the initial investments.

I think what Luke is struggling to say is Crowdcube investors in BSTech lost some of their money. Was this on another drag along deal? Shares in BS GP were listed at 17p and opened at 21p, then rose to 28p before falling back to 21p now. Hard luck to all you CC believers. Luke you need to go on a realism course. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Crowdcube tell the truth, their way.

An interview we did in the Memo has allowed Crowdcube to tell its investors how well they are doing.

The article here has been sanitised to avoid any court cases but the message is plain.

Here is Crowdcube's response to the piece, which really says it all.

In response to Brown’s comments Crowdcube told The Memo:
“Independent research from AltFi Data has found crowdfunded businesses have performed ‘impressively’ and Crowdcube has the highest internal rate of return for investors in the industry.”
“We enable young businesses to raise capital to create growth, which is not short term, but judging by the 430,000 Crowdcube members and the number of businesses being funded through our platform we think our investors understand that.”
“To say that most companies never bother to keep investors abreast of events is simply not true. Over 90% of Crowdcube funded businesses have sent at least one update to shareholders since fundraising.”

So lets take these one by one.
AltFi is a well known ECF promoter, so you can take this with a large pinch of salt. Their evidence comes from looking at companies that have raised again since their first ECF campaign and taking the increase in company value as a real increase. We all know that is crap. Companies that have for instance gone bust are counted as zero - there are no negative values and not one of the companies that they say has increased its value has in fact done so in real terms. So investors in companies that have gone bust suffer no opportunity loss according to their metric, they simply lose their money. This not realistic, factual or objective. £10k invested in Bad Ideas Ltd, which takes 3 years to go bust is £10k that could have earned interest or been invested in a growing asset. Altfi wipe this out. Why is that? Its a real quantifiable loss but then that would add to the downside pressure on the ECF figures. Their figures are in the end meaningless.
Crowdcube do not have 430,000 active members. Their real numbers are on the slide and from anecdotal evidence we get from 'members' sending us things, they will continue to be so. If returns are not short term then why have campaigns talking consistently about 3-5 year ROIs?
This is the worst one. So what they are saying is that of the 600 odd companies that have funded via the platform, 60 have never corresponded with their investors. That's bad enough. But if you take into account the fact that CC has been going since 2012 (ignore 2011) and most of the companies have only provided one update, then that is a disgrace. Our point made. Thank you. These updates should be minimum twice a year - so a company funded in 2014 should by now have around 6 updates - not one. We know that this is the case as we get told this constantly by their members, although many rather than most would have been a better description. And of course you know that Luke would have put the best possible spin on all of this, so its guaranteed to be exaggerated in CC's favour.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Velvet buried underground

Velvet London, a beer producer, raised £45k at the turn of 2014/15, on Crowdcube and has now closed. As usual it didnt last long but it did use SEIS so no one will lose out, apart from HMRC. Yet another success for the UKplc's start up funding policy.

And we are only scratching the surface. Surely time for someone somewhere to wake up? If you put money into poor plans run by people with little or no experience, back it up with SEIS and free beer for investors, you will get funding. You will also get a business collapse. Extend that nationwide and we have a problem.

Velvet went from revenues of £12k to over £300k to £1.5m in the space of 24 months. Well the problem was, they didnt - that's what Crowdcube said they would do. Not sure they ever sold anything. The projections on Crowdcube are obviously complete tripe but so are the historic accounts. The real accounts show considerable losses mounted up and a negative BS, whereas the Crowdcube BS is in the black. 


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Crowdcube's Psonar stops the music

Cambridge has produced yet another Crowdcube flop. Psonar took £316k off 70 investors just over a year ago. It had previously raised another £1.2m. Now it has been put into liquidation with zero assets, owing trade creditors £250k. 

Dont know what it is about Cambridge but its having its share of Crowdcube cock ups.

There is no explanation yet as to the what happened. The SofA shows an estimated £11,900 of assets made up almost entirely of a VAT refund - so probably wrong if was worked out by the founders. 

The founders have what can only be described as caste iron brilliant credentials - our hats were full after reading all the big names they dropped. Makes you wonder. As does the veracity of the all the signed and pending contracts they had around the world. Is there a chance that Crowdcube checked these?

Where did the £300k plus go? It hasnt ended up creating any assets; they have none. Its just been spent. Mind you with 14 directors you are bound to have large expenses bills.

Surely someone, somewhere needs to be held accountable? This is nuts.

A new approach to S/EIS

Ask yourselves - what is the purpose of EIS and SEIS? Is it to help individuals get richer or is it to help UK plc?

Equity Crowdfunding relies almost entirely on the Government tax rebate systems SEIS and EIS. Without these there would be little investment. So from that standpoint, it is working - it is releasing private cash into companies as an alternative to the banks and VCs etc, where money has largely dried up or is too difficult to access for start ups and small SMEs.

So the next question is what happens next? What does this money achieve? Well the answer is a little more disappointing. The end goal of Government intervention into private funding of UK start ups, has to be the long term benefit of UKplc. You simply cant have Government handing out money from the public purse, to allow punters to go on a Saturday One Arm Bandit Spree - risk free. That wouldnt make any sense. And if further fallout was such that other SME's suffered as a result - because these newly funded, poorly run businesses went bust owing them money, then that would be crazy, right?

Well this is pretty well what Vince Cable set up. Investors openly tell us that its only because of SEIS or EIS that they take a punt. Some take an interest in the business, but many we have spoken with dont - some even admitted not reading the plan at all, they just like the rewards and with the rebate it makes sense even if they lose their principle. Is that helping UKplc? 

I have sat through numerous meetings and conferences on ECF, where the main speaker isnt an entrepreneur, but a lawyer. His is the most listened to section of the event and gets the most queries. He isnt talking about marketing, product development or cashflow. He's talking about how to maximise your S/EIS benefits. 

When a small business raises £250k on an ECf platform for their plan, and within a year has gone bust owing trade creditors that again, something in the system is wrong. Crowdcube now have around 60 failures (closures, so not accounting for the 100 plus that are zombies) to 3 dubious successes - the best exit being by sale to an overseas company, thereby taking any future benefit out of the UK. In fact 2 out of the 3 'successes' have been sales to overseas companies. 

It might all work better if the companies applying on the platforms were better chosen, or in some cases were actually chosen. A simple new director's course and test might help? If you havent passed it you cant access S/EIS. I am constantly staggered by the naivety of most plans and they never fail to back me up. If we really want to help these start ups we need to start at the beginning. The money so far wasted on tax rebates for 'investors', better described as punters, in businesses that never had a prayer of lasting 2 years let alone 10, could have helped fund this course and test. We'd be in a much better position now. It would allow easy access investment, help to protect investors, benefit the platforms and the businesses and most importantly benefit UKplc, which is where we started.

It's not instant, so wont be liked but it has to make more sense than HMRC pouring yet more tax payers money down the drain. 

All comments welcome. 

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Pressery has been squeezed dry.

The Pressery squeezed £143k out of 60 Crowdcube investors in March 2015. By November 2016 they had filed for closure with unpayable debts of another £80k plus. It's one we missed.

The company is still in liquidation nearly a year later.

Why are these stories never covered by any of the ECF or Altfi press and why do Crowdcube never even attempt to explain what went wrong? It may well have been an authentic business that just tried to scale and failed - but we dont think so looking at the pitch and its claims. 

Trade creditors were owed £99k. That is not helping anyone.

Yet another one for the growing list. Come on Crowdcube either try harder or push off.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Rentify reviews are bad

Rentify took £1m plus off investors on Crowdcube in 2016. Now reviews on Trust Pilot are nothing short of a disaster.

You just have to spend a few seconds on TP on the Rentify page. Page one of the reviews - so the most recent - has twenty reviews. Of these, 7 are one star or would be negative if the the option was afforded. They come with copious notes on the complaints. One other review is two and one three stars, neither recommending the service. So that's pretty half of the most recent reviews telling people to stay away. 

Rentify is a customer service business. Or that's what they sold the punters who invested. Accounts due out next month. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Cornerstone lose £2.4m and secure investment of £3.5m

Cornerstone raised £845k on Crowdcube in 2015 and another £3m since. Now on the back of 2016 results, showing losses of £2.4m, they have secured £3.5m from Calculus Capital.

And all of this against a CC projection for 2016 of a profit.

Well somebody is wrong.

Brewdog close $50m, 12 month, punk USA round $43m short.

Brewdog's failed US fundraising campaign peters out with a whimper rather than a snarl.

Following the recent announcement that Brewdog has sold 22% of the company to San Francisco based TSG Consumer Partners for £230m, they have decided to close their ailing US Equity for Punks campaign. Targeting an ambitious $50m it raised just $7m. Clearly now, they do not need the extra $43m. According to their own PR, the campaign was a stupendous success. So that's why they had to sell out to Corporateville?

Some might say that all the vocals coming from the Ellon HQ, when Camden sold out to AB InBev for £85m, was just a sham. Now the punks have done the same. Promises to keep the razors sharp are no longer believable.

Investors in the company are looking at a stupendous return of over 2000% if the rumoured IPO takes place and is successful. The company has been a fantastic success, no doubt, but I do wish they would stop talking total crap.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Buffalo Grid announce new funding partnership with Microsoft

Buffalo Grid raised over £400k on Crowdcube last year. Now they have entered a new partnership with Microsoft's Energy Initiative.

Kevin Connolly, CEO of Energy Access, explained why they had joined up Buffalo Grid - 

''BuffaloGrid fits perfectly as a partner – it provides affordable access to clean energy for mobile phone charging to those who lack it, and it’s doing so through the innovative use of technology. With a solution that leverages the Internet of Things (IoT), data reporting, analytics and advanced services like machine learning, we believe that BuffaloGrid’s innovative use of Microsoft Azure services will be a truly exciting way to demonstrate that technology can be used to accelerate access to energy and connectivity, while building a scalable and sustainable business model."

The full article is available here.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Seedrs CEO Jeff Lynn takes a bow

The CEO and founder of Seedrs has decided to step sideways to allow a new CEO to take charge.

This will free Jeff Lynn up pursue his 'moonshots' according to the platform. It is not possible to do both and he admits that being a CEO is not really his forte - which is honest.

We will have to wait and see if this changes anything. Whilst Seedrs is considerably better than Crowdcube in all areas, they have recently succumbed to some blatant PRinging and not being entirely open about the facts. Hopefully the new CEO, who is the old COO, will correct this. 

Adding to their wage bill at the top end doesnt seem very sensible at the moment - with all the uncertainty in the market. But if Jeff couldnt manage it, it maybe for the best in the long run; if there is one. One thing that might concern SHs is that whilst the credentials of the new CEO are good, they are certainly not in start ups or SMEs. So you might ask how is that going to work with a company that focuses almost exclusively on funding these types of businesses? He joined in January 2017 so has had very little experience in this sector. Im not a SH so really it's just an observation.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Paul Weller's Real Stars are Rare calls it a day

Paul Weller's fashion brand is no more, according to its website. Earlier this year the company tried to raise capital on Crowdcube but failed. Now they have thrown in the towl.

Maybe it really was one of those companies set up to use the ECF space as easy money or maybe he has just made a sensible decision. We will never know. The Crowd for once didnt like the star's idea.

And so rather than let the walls come tumbling down, he has exited quietly via stage door left; still a brilliant songwriter.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Troubles at Enistic highlight the poor Crowdcube model

Enistic raised £340k on Crowdcube in 2104. Now they are struggling with mounting losses, huge founder pay packets and resigning directors.

So how does a new company making losses justify a salary of £150k to its founding CEO. Well is cant but there is nothing Crowdcube investors can do about it.

We wrote about Enistic here when they suddenly withdrew their second attempt to take Crowdcube investors for a ride. Thet were not well received the second time.

Now information we have shows why. The CEO, Darryl Mattocks, has been taking £150k pa out of the company by his own admission. YE March 2017, the company reported losses of over £100k - ie his salary. He hasnt broken any laws, its just plain stupid. Investors did not put their money into the company to pay for his lifestyle.

A recent resignation by one of the non exec directors has led to the revelation that things are not well at the company and there have been some interesting goings on. We wont go into these here, suffice to say that they are not in the interest of Crowdcube's shareholders and it also involves a service contract which appears to be against the interests of Enistic.

So we comeback to the title of this post. How can Crowdcube investors assert any from of meaningful influence on rogue directors, once they are shareholders? Simple answer is they cannot. The first Crowdcube pitch raised almost 3 times the amount sort. So investors were enthusiastic. The March 17 accounts show little cash remains and assets total £119k, even after the company raised more finance last year. Someone has benefited but it is surely not the investors.

Some genuine good news for Equity Crowdfunding

One of Seedrs 2016 successes will be able to return investors a 3-4 times uplift on their money. Now that's what ECF should be about.

Blow Ltd raised £1.3m on Seedrs 14 months ago. Now the company has a large retail chain investing £6m. As part of the deal, it is also offering to buy back around £1.5m of the existing Seedrs SH shares. This offer is being made at a company valuation of around 3.5 times the valuation in June 2016. So for a Seedrs SH, a great and swift return. What's more, this is not part of some drag along clause as so often seems to be the case  - it is merely an option, to be delivered on a pro rata basis.

It seems likely that most SH will take the opportunity to off load at least some of their holding, so demand will be strong. The £1.5m set aside will not allow all investors to cut and run at the new valuation, so you could argue this is an option and a mere gesture. But in the current climate we would like to applaud all involved for bothering.

Hats off.